(This is an introduction to a much bigger piece.)
We have a story to tell.
Don’t worry; it’s not the kind you used to tell around the campfire with flashlights under you chins. Nothing will jump out of the darkness. No one will come back scratching from the dead – no hooks or golden arms…
You will be able to sleep tonight without the hall light on.
Yes, we promise!
We have carried this story alone. We want her kind to know it too.
You’ll be glad, you’ll see…
Are you comfortable?
We’ll wait if you want to make yourself a cup of tea before we begin.
This is a good story for tea, and for cozy slippers.
It’s a snowy day kind of a story.
Settle in now.
We will start here, with the beginnings...
This is her story, but there is no time left for her to tell it. It isn’t fair for her to move on unwitnessed. Her story rests with us now. I don’t think she would mind us using her voice. She has always trusted us, and we have been worthy. Her voice was so lovely. We think it is important, Dear Reader, that you get to hear it. It is important for us to hear it all together, like a song.
We are the ones who know her heart. We are the ones who loved her best. We are the ones who always saw her as she was, unmasked. We are the ones who looked her in the eyes. There has always been one of us – sometimes two.
Does it matter who we are? You wouldn’t believe us if we told you! You want us to trust you? Can we Dear Reader? Will you believe us if we show our faces?
Most of us have been feline. Yes you read correctly. We are her cats. I am named Rhoda. That is formal for Roadie. She always thought that I should wear a tee shirt that says “I’m with the band,” because I have a way of looking like I belong wherever I go, including the tops of doors and kitchen cabinets. I tried to teach her to take risks and not to always protect herself so much - not that she hasn’t had reason to be protective.
We all have a piece of her story. We see what no human ever could. It all began for us with a beacon from a canine. Although our instincts and personal tastes sometimes get in the way, we cats and dogs do try to work together.
There was a Border Collie in residence when she was born, a smart and gentle soul named Sadie. Sadie was the first to recognize her as one who might benefit from our presence. Sadie sent us a beacon that said something like this: “There is a little girl here in the family where I live. She loves me, and I hold her tender heart. She is not of the mold of her humans, and I am afraid she may get lost. I will watch over for as long as I am able. Please keep an eye out. She may be one of yours.”
And keep an eye out we did. We partner with the canines, especially during transitions. Sadie stayed on until she was a grand old lass of fourteen, when our person was in the summer of her tenth year. As Sadie began to show the signs of her advancing age, we would hear of her through the network.
Midnight, a sleek black stray was in place to take over. She showed up at our person’s front door. Our person loved her right away and brought her tuna and milk. Midnight was a good match and was feeling honored to be the first of her feline protectors to see the shimmer, but as sometimes happens with children, her mother didn’t understand us, and one day when our person was in school struggling with long division, the SPCA van came and took Midnight away. Our person cried and cried when she learned, but Midnight was gone from her.
This is just the beginning, Dear Reader. There are many of us, through her years, that have seen the shimmer, and we all have our piece of her story to tell. What is the shimmer? Sometimes the shimmer is a humming, and sometimes it is a scent that lives behind the eyes. Sometimes it is a tingling of the whiskers, but mostly it shows up in colors. It is molecules moving. It is cells aligning. It is a shifting into place…